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Dummy business needs a math head!

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  • Evan Lewis
    Wesley, I m new to the group (in fact this is my first post) as well as being new to cargo cycling having recently purchased a 2010 Kona Ute as well as a 2010
    Message 1 of 18 , Sep 24, 2010
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      Wesley,

      I'm new to the group (in fact this is my first post) as well as being new to cargo cycling having recently purchased a 2010 Kona Ute as well as a 2010 Surly Big Dummy (both of which I love dearly for slightly different reasons). But I've been a businessman and entrepreneur for my entire career.

      For what it's worth, while the obesity stats are interesting on a personal level if I were considering using a bike rather than a car for errands, taking my kids to school, etc., from a business standpoint, I would be much more engaged if you could tell me things like:

      - how much I'll save on gas
      - if there are federal subsidies I/my business can capture by using a cargo bike vs. a van/car/etc.
      - will the people to whom I'm delivering my product engage more with my company because I'm using cargo bikes over a competitor that uses vans/cars/etc.
      - will my health care provider lower my rates if my employees are healthier as a result of using bikes

      In brief, if you are targeting businesses with your product(s), focus on the business benefits. Like it or not, that frequently comes down to saving money and/or increasing operational efficiencies. Throw in some of the obesity stats as/if necessary but I would not make that the focus of your customer presentations (assuming that I understand the audience to whom you're pitching).

      Best regards and good luck!
      Evan Lewis
    • David Chase
      ... PS -- what destroys roads, at least initially, is truck traffic. Incremental damage to an intact road (not one filled with cracks and potholes) is
      Message 2 of 18 , Sep 24, 2010
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        > > 3. Cost of bike lanes per lane mile vs. car lanes per lane mile. Also any compelling statistics on the costs of roads for communities or a per person dollar amount.

        PS -- what destroys roads, at least initially, is truck traffic. Incremental damage to an intact road (not one filled with cracks and potholes) is supposed to be proportional to the 3rd or 4th power of the wheel weight (with some handwaving for very large and very small tire footprints). Generally, a 10-ton truck, does at least 1000 times the damage of a 1 ton car, perhaps 10000 times.

        What destroys bike lanes is tree roots, if they aren't made sturdy enough initially (this is happening to parts of the Minuteman Trail near Boston).
      • Steve Lange
        ... It Depends Those questions are broad, and so contingent upon the specifics of the individual/organization/business being considered, that it s going to
        Message 3 of 18 , Sep 24, 2010
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          On Fri, Sep 24, 2010 at 8:21 AM, Evan Lewis <evanlewis1@...> wrote:

          For what it's worth, while the obesity stats are interesting on a personal level if I were considering using a bike rather than a car for errands, taking my kids to school, etc., from a business standpoint, I would be much more engaged if you could tell me things like:

          - how much I'll save on gas
          - if there are federal subsidies I/my business can capture by using a cargo bike vs. a van/car/etc.
          - will the people to whom I'm delivering my product engage more with my company because I'm using cargo bikes over a competitor that uses vans/cars/etc.
          - will my health care provider lower my rates if my employees are healthier as a result of using bikes

          "It Depends"

          Those questions are broad, and so contingent upon the specifics of the individual/organization/business being considered, that it's going to be very difficult, if not impossible, to distill the benefits down to an easily digestible executive summary applicable to all possible businesses... ;-)

          The gas savings question totally depends on the nature and duration of the trips you're considering replacing with bikes. Remember to include savings for maintenance, insurance, licensing, parking and similar in your calculations. Also consider the influence of depreciation (from a tax perspective) if the cars/trucks/whatever you'll be replacing are owned instead of leased.

          I know there's a commuter benefits tax credit that businesses can apply for if they provide cash or services as a fringe benefit to their employees who bike commute.

          Hopefully you know better than anyone else how your target market and demographic will respond to bicycles instead of motorized vehicles. If you're proposing an airport shuttle, then you're probably putting yourself at a disadvantage. On the other hand, if you're proposing a grocery delivery service in a small to midsize city, then it will probably be perceived positively. But really, you're better placed than anyone to make that determination.

          Same goes for your health care provider... and with all the changes afoot in that industry, who can say. My personal belief is that, if they can find a way to screw you over, they will, and I don't expect them to lower rates for anybody any time soon. But I may just be cynical with respect to that industry.

          Steve Lange
          Santa Barbara, CA

        • Evan Lewis
          All good points Steve. But I would reiterate that from a business standpoint, if I ve been asked to listen to a pitch about switching/choosing between a few/a
          Message 4 of 18 , Sep 24, 2010
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            All good points Steve. 

            But I would reiterate that from a business standpoint, if I've been asked to listen to a pitch about switching/choosing between a few/a fleet of motorized vehicles and cargo bikes, a presentation that essentially says "it depends" is not compelling to me as a business owner and may actually feel like a waste of time. 

            In fact, if the presentation raises more difficult questions and no answers, then I would bet that there are many other more pressing issues/concerns that would occupy my time and the cargo bike presentation that said, "it depends" falls out of the proverbial bed.

            Instead, I would offer up calculations and possible answers even if the universe's most definitive answer isn't available. Whether you're pitching cargo bikes or staplers or new computers, the reasons for choosing one over another need to be clearly and cogently communicated. The closing slide can't be "good luck figuring out the specifics for your business". 

            Instead, a good presentation will arm the possible buyer with the information and statistics they need to (hopefully) make the decision that cargo bikes are the better way to go.

            Best regards,
            Evan
          • WT
            I just wanted to first say thanks to everyone for the responses. I m sorry I haven t been interacting more, it s just going to be hard for me to be at the
            Message 5 of 18 , Sep 24, 2010
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              I just wanted to first say thanks to everyone for the responses. I'm sorry I haven't been interacting more, it's just going to be hard for me to be at the computer much today (maybe I should have waited to post this when I knew I could be around more). Anyway, just a quick note about the obesity stats - it's definitely NOT a cornerstone of my pitch, I just thought it would be interesting to see, if we truly are thinking about overall energy usage in this country and we switched to cargo bikes (where it makes sense and cents to do so) how long could we run that transportation method just on the excess fat that is in this country?
            • Steve Lange
              Hi Evan- I owe you an apology - I ve only just now realized you were replying to Wesley s post - I was under the mistaken impression you were this thread s
              Message 6 of 18 , Sep 24, 2010
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                Hi Evan-

                I owe you an apology - I've only just now realized you were replying to Wesley's post - I was under the mistaken impression you were this thread's starter, and he (Wesley) was replying to you. D'oh!

                Your initial comments now make quite a bit more sense, and my responses are not particularly helpful at all - as you rightly note. Those things all do depend on the specific case, but in my carelessness I failed to realize that a specific case was, in fact, being discussed.

                My apologies! I'd blame Gmail's peculiar approach to threaded messages, but really that's just passing the buck. Sorry.

                Steve


                On Fri, Sep 24, 2010 at 9:57 AM, Evan Lewis <evanlewis1@...> wrote:


                All good points Steve. 

                But I would reiterate that from a business standpoint, if I've been asked to listen to a pitch about switching/choosing between a few/a fleet of motorized vehicles and cargo bikes, a presentation that essentially says "it depends" is not compelling to me as a business owner and may actually feel like a waste of time. 

                In fact, if the presentation raises more difficult questions and no answers, then I would bet that there are many other more pressing issues/concerns that would occupy my time and the cargo bike presentation that said, "it depends" falls out of the proverbial bed.

                Instead, I would offer up calculations and possible answers even if the universe's most definitive answer isn't available. Whether you're pitching cargo bikes or staplers or new computers, the reasons for choosing one over another need to be clearly and cogently communicated. The closing slide can't be "good luck figuring out the specifics for your business". 

                Instead, a good presentation will arm the possible buyer with the information and statistics they need to (hopefully) make the decision that cargo bikes are the better way to go.

                Best regards,
                Evan



              • WT
                Thanks again to everyone for your input. I m still very busy trying to get the details ironed out with my new business venture but I thought I d take a break
                Message 7 of 18 , Oct 3, 2010
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                  Thanks again to everyone for your input. I'm still very busy trying to get the details ironed out with my new business venture but I thought I'd take a break to post a link to one of my first (commercial) custom mod tests.
                  Pictures are here:
                  http://www.flickr.com/photos/31290700@N06/sets/72157625086403468/

                  If you get really bored I also posted a video. This is not a snazzy production type video - just documenting the trip...you've been warned!

                  http://vimeo.com/15501623

                  Wes
                • Fearghas McKay
                  ... You might want to look at http://www.carryfreedom.com/bamboo.html for plans for easy to build trailers that will improve your load carry over the kid
                  Message 8 of 18 , Oct 3, 2010
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                    On 3 Oct 2010, at 17:31, WT wrote:

                    > Thanks again to everyone for your input. I'm still very busy trying to get the details ironed out with my new business venture but I thought I'd take a break to post a link to one of my first (commercial) custom mod tests.

                    You might want to look at http://www.carryfreedom.com/bamboo.html for plans for easy to build trailers that will improve your load carry over the kid trailer.

                    Nick makes the designs free if you tell him what you want to do with it, so he can use the info for market research. A group of 10 of us built 10 in two evenings in Edinburgh earlier in the summer, not pretty but they carry lots and were not expensive as they were made out of CLS and a couple bits of metal plus two wheels. http://www.flickr.com/photos/greenerleith/sets/72157624247844624/

                    Good luck with the launch!

                    HTH

                    f
                  • WT
                    Thanks Fearghas, I m hoping to function without the trailer, that s one of the main reasons I made the additional rack. Although, I think certain loads would
                    Message 9 of 18 , Oct 3, 2010
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                      Thanks Fearghas,

                      I'm hoping to function without the trailer, that's one of the main reasons I made the additional rack. Although, I think certain loads would still allow for a trailer also and I wasn't very impressed with the kid trailer as a load hauler so the bamboo trailer could be an option. More over, if I learn how to work with bamboo that might be a good way for me to prototype future add-ons!

                      --- In rootsradicals@yahoogroups.com, Fearghas McKay <fm-lists@...> wrote:
                      >
                      >
                      > On 3 Oct 2010, at 17:31, WT wrote:
                      >
                      > > Thanks again to everyone for your input. I'm still very busy trying to get the details ironed out with my new business venture but I thought I'd take a break to post a link to one of my first (commercial) custom mod tests.
                      >
                      > You might want to look at http://www.carryfreedom.com/bamboo.html for plans for easy to build trailers that will improve your load carry over the kid trailer.
                      >
                      > Nick makes the designs free if you tell him what you want to do with it, so he can use the info for market research. A group of 10 of us built 10 in two evenings in Edinburgh earlier in the summer, not pretty but they carry lots and were not expensive as they were made out of CLS and a couple bits of metal plus two wheels. http://www.flickr.com/photos/greenerleith/sets/72157624247844624/
                      >
                      > Good luck with the launch!
                      >
                      > HTH
                      >
                      > f
                      >
                    • Fearghas McKay
                      ... The Bamboo part is merely a concept ie you could build it out of bamboo but the design will work for CLS, aluminium section, polypipe, metal conduit, or
                      Message 10 of 18 , Oct 3, 2010
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                        On 3 Oct 2010, at 21:31, WT wrote:

                        > I'm hoping to function without the trailer, that's one of the main reasons I made the additional rack. Although, I think certain loads would still allow for a trailer also and I wasn't very impressed with the kid trailer as a load hauler so the bamboo trailer could be an option. More over, if I learn how to work with bamboo that might be a good way for me to prototype future add-ons!

                        The Bamboo part is merely a concept ie you could build it out of bamboo but the design will work for CLS, aluminium section, polypipe, metal conduit, or most rigid materials. It gives you a design that you can attach using materials to hand - so your return on capital can be maximised! Although Nick does build really rather nice trailers for sale, margin is king in business :-)

                        f

                        PS and of course Cash is Emperor :-)
                      • oohrrah
                        I removed all of the fabric from my kid trailer & put down a plywood floor. The trailer is a lot more useful for cargo. GT
                        Message 11 of 18 , Oct 4, 2010
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                          I removed all of the fabric from my kid trailer & put down a plywood floor. The trailer is a lot more useful for cargo. GT http://i126.photobucket.com/albums/p117/ghtownsend/Bicycles/Bicycle015.jpg

                          --- In rootsradicals@yahoogroups.com, "WT" <watrout@...> wrote:
                          >
                          > Thanks Fearghas,
                          >
                          > I'm hoping to function without the trailer, that's one of the main reasons I made the additional rack. Although, I think certain loads would still allow for a trailer also and I wasn't very impressed with the kid trailer as a load hauler so the bamboo trailer could be an option. More over, if I learn how to work with bamboo that might be a good way for me to prototype future add-ons!
                          >
                          > --- In rootsradicals@yahoogroups.com, Fearghas McKay <fm-lists@> wrote:
                          > >
                          > >
                          > > On 3 Oct 2010, at 17:31, WT wrote:
                          > >
                          > > > Thanks again to everyone for your input. I'm still very busy trying to get the details ironed out with my new business venture but I thought I'd take a break to post a link to one of my first (commercial) custom mod tests.
                          > >
                          > > You might want to look at http://www.carryfreedom.com/bamboo.html for plans for easy to build trailers that will improve your load carry over the kid trailer.
                          > >
                          > > Nick makes the designs free if you tell him what you want to do with it, so he can use the info for market research. A group of 10 of us built 10 in two evenings in Edinburgh earlier in the summer, not pretty but they carry lots and were not expensive as they were made out of CLS and a couple bits of metal plus two wheels. http://www.flickr.com/photos/greenerleith/sets/72157624247844624/
                          > >
                          > > Good luck with the launch!
                          > >
                          > > HTH
                          > >
                          > > f
                          > >
                          >
                        • John Wilde
                          I was thinking about doing the same with my Burley Flat bed cargo trailer. I wasn t planning on getting rid of the fabric part of the trailer as much as I was
                          Message 12 of 18 , Oct 4, 2010
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                            I was thinking about doing the same with my Burley Flat bed cargo trailer.  I wasn't planning on getting rid of the fabric part of the trailer as much as I was thinking of making a plywood base to use with the Burley. 
                            Blessings,
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